Scottish councils have the power to introduce workplace parking levies (WPL) following the flagship Transport Bill being passed by the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Government said the country will have a ‘cleaner, smarter and more accessible transport network’ after MSPs voted to pass the Transport (Scotland) Bill following the Stage 3 debate on Thursday (10 October).
The Bill includes a discretionary power for local authorities to bring in WPLs, which charge employers who provide parking for staff, generating funds for other transport projects.
The measure, supported by the SNP administration and the Green Party, was controversial and opposed by the Scottish Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties.
Jamie Greene, Scottish Conservative MSP and shadow cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, said: ‘The Workplace Parking Levy is a regressive form of taxation and it is utterly shameful that the SNP have imposed this on hard-working communities across Scotland.’
Nottingham City Council currently operates a WPL £415 per space. Next week Birmingham City Council’s cabinet will consider proposals for levy charge of £500 per space. It estimates that this will generate approximately £7.1m annual net revenue, with an estimated cost of £915,000 to implement the scheme over a three-year period.
The Transport (Scotland) Bill also expressly bans pavement and double parking, with exceptions and with a power for local authorities to exempt specific streets.
Another measure in the Bill that aims to improve urban air quality is low emission zones (LEZ) in four Scottish cities – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.
Unlike Clean Air Zones in England and London’s ULEZ, which charge drivers of highly polluting vehicles, Scottish LEZs fine the registered keepers of such vehicles if they are driven into a specified area.
Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, said: ‘The Low Emission Zones provisions will improve air quality with Scotland’s four largest cities already committed to their introduction and local authorities are also being given a new tool to address the climate emergency with the discretionary powers for a Workplace Parking Levy.
He added: ‘The Bill puts into law the requirement for the Scottish Government to have a National Transport Strategy and in doing so recognises the contribution that transport makes to society, including enabling the realisation of human rights and reduction of poverty and inequality.
‘I now look forward to working with our partners to put these measures into practice, protecting our climate and improving lives in the process.’
The legislation also includes measures that Transport Scotland said would help local authorities improve bus services and reverse the decline in passenger numbers.
These include powers for councils to bring in bus services improvement partnerships and franchising frameworks, as well as making clear that they can operate their own bus companies.
The Scottish Government said information on bus services will also improve and that the implementation of smart ticketing will be accelerated to make public transport an easier option.
It said the provisions in the Bill ‘recognise the importance of reducing transport emissions in the light of the Global Climate Emergency and underline the contribution that the transport system can make to improving social and economic well-being’.
Mr Matheson added: 'The Bill empowers local authorities to address local transport needs through new options for improving bus services to help address the decline in passenger numbers.
‘Those measures include a new statutory partnership model, franchising and the ability for local authorities to run buses themselves. We are supporting the Bill through over £500m in bus priority infrastructure investment which was announced in the Programme for Government to help reduce the effects of congestion on services.’